Exhibitions Industry Performance Continues to Improve

A first-quarter report from CEIR reveals significant growth since 2021, though still short of prepandemic levels.

B2B exhibition industry cancellation rates.

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research’s first quarter index results show that the U.S. business-to-business exhibitions industry has improved significantly in the first quarter of 2022. Cancellations for events continue to drop, with just 9.2 percent of in-person events being cancelled and 1.6 percent being postponed in Q1 this year. That’s a significant increase from the same time frame in 2021, when a whopping 91.3 percent of in-person exhibitions were cancelled. 

Cancellation rates for the remainder of 2021, though vastly better than in the first quarter, were still significant: 66.2 percent in the second quarter, 20.6 percent in the third and 12.4 percent in the fourth. In the second half of 2020, about 98 percent of events were cancelled. 

However, overall exhibition performance hasn't returned to prepandemic levels: Based on the CEIR Total Index, which measures overall exhibition performance, the industry remains 37.9 percent below the 2019 level. 

Both CEIR survey research and index results indicate that recovery of the events industry will continue to accelerate and that the demand to return in 2022 is strong — particularly on the exhibitor side, with attendees conveying a slightly softer response. 

"Despite Omicron at the outset of 2022, our industry pressed on. Many have held their events and have done so successfully and safely,” noted Cathy Breden, CEO of CEIR. "While it will take time to get back to 2019 performance levels, we are on our way. With safety measures implemented at large gatherings and with a majority of the population vaccinated, the recovery of B2B exhibitions should continue in 2022, unless a new variant causes a fifth wave of Covid-19 infections."

More information on the 2022 CEIR Index Report can be found on the organization's website, along with individual sector reports.